NIGERIANS at the Beijing Olympic Games erupted in jubilation yesterday ( Aug 10, 2008 ) as news reached them that the 2000 Olympic Gold medal for the 4 x 400 metres relay event has been re-awarded to the country. In fact, Team Nigeria Coach, Innocent Ebunike, was too stunned for words. When he finally found his voice, gratitude poured forth: “Are you serious? Ah! Praise God! Halleluyah! So, at last, justice has been done. This is unbelievable. I am so happy for all the guys that made the team, I am happy and also sad for members of the American team who are clean but had to lose their medal because of two people who tested positive to drugs.” Egbunike was the coach who handled the quartet of Sunday Bada, Jude Monye, Clement Chukwu and Enefiok Udo-Obong that won the silver medal in the Sydney event. Fedelis Gazadma, the fifth beneficiary ran in the heats. Egbunike thus became the first Nigerian coach that will win a relay medal as an athlete and coach. Another team to win an Olympic medal (Egbunike, Moses Ugbesie, Rotimi Peters and Sunday Uti) won a bronze medal at the Los Angles 1984 Olympic Games. It was Nigeria first athletics medal. A top official of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Olabanji Oladapo, yesterday broke the news to the contingent and Nigerians went into wild jubilation, especially the athletes and officials of Team Nigeria at the athletes games village. Oladapo, Secretary-General of NOC, said the information was conveyed to the committee at the end of a meeting of the Executive Board of IOC. “We are now awaiting the official presentation of the medal to us. This will also be announced by IOC,” he said.
The U.S. team was disqualified following revelation that some members of the relay team tested positive to banned drugs. Jerome Young, a member of the relay squad had initially tested positive to banned substances and was therefore ineligible to compete during the event. But he went ahead anyway to take part. Again, another member of the squad, Antonio Pettigrew, admitted to using drugs, though he was not detected. He returned the medal. Following the admission, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was compelled to direct the others to return their medals. In reaction, Bada, a member of the Nigeria relay squad, said: “Although the medal has been long in coming, we deserve to have it.” To celebrate, he is planning dinner for friends here in the best restaurant in Beijing “I am happy to hear about the re-awarding of the medals. I am looking forward to the presentation. I am also happy that all four members of the squad are alive to witness this. That it has become a reality makes some of us happy. It will be a turning point in my live and career. The ultimate in sports is an Olympic Gold and for some one to say in his lifetime that he is an Olympic medalist is a thing of joy,” Bada added.
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